Is there any way to copy a physical hard drive to a virtual drive for use in Vmware Workstation?

12 Answers 12


You could use VMware vCenter Converter(free) or Paragon Go Virtual(free), both applications will convert your existing physical machines in to virtual machines.

I have only used VMware vCenter Converter with good results.

  • 1
    VMware vCenter Converter doesn't seem to be available for download free ly. And as for Paragon Go Virtual, the page says "No operations can be applied physically on the hard disk" for the demo version.......
    – Pacerier
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 14:55

VMware (and I think most VM vendors) have "physical-to-virtual" conversion tools that should do the job. It's been a long time since I've tried them, but when I did I had no good luck (I'm sure that's probably not the case anymore - it's been a very long time).

However, if you find they don't work for you, you can do what I usually do - attach an empty virtual drive to an existing virtual machine and use Ghost or Acronis (or any other drive imaging software) to image the physical disk to the empty VM disk. This works great - just like if you wanted to copy a drive from one physical machine to another.

  • 2
    The program for VMware is the VMware vCenter Converter. Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 14:04

Sure is, you can make it an ISO and mount it on the system. Beware, that it will take up as much harddisk space as the drive it's a copy of, so you'll want to do this on another drive. There are far easier ways. For instance: Use "File->Import" on the Workstation to choose the harddrive as the source drive to mount.

  • +1 for "it will take up as much harddisk space as the drive it's a copy of"
    – Justicle
    Commented Nov 23, 2009 at 23:22
  1. Create a new Virtual machine based on linux.
  2. Make the drive size equal to the drive to be imaged
  3. Connect the drive to be imaged (USB/eSATA)
  4. boot the VM off the diskcopy CD/ISO link text
  5. Make a disk copy using external drive as Source and vDisk as Destination
  6. Change VM settings as appropriate
  • This method is the least difficult to implement. DiskCopy can be replaced by any utility which has a bootable CD e.g CloneZilla, Acronis TrueImage etc. or even any linux liveCD + dd Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 15:29

You can use:

  1. VMware vCenter Converter Standalone -- As suggested by most users but I wonder it may subject to licensing requirement for existing customer, tho you can still download it freely from official site.
  2. VMware vCenter Converter cold clone boot CD -- Discontinued but you can find it here. http://thatcouldbeaproblem.com/?p=584
  3. Microsoft SCVMM -- Sth for large scale and scheduled conversion.
  4. Sysinternal Disk2VHD by Microsoft -- My personal fav and the easiest one. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx

PS. Only 2 allow you to have it done from "bare bone" level, most mehtods required agents to be installed in guest os which is going to be converted.


you can just 'dd' your /dev/hda or /dev/hda1 to a file. i.e. if you are on a linux box.

on Windows get a windows dd, and use \DosDevices\DriveC ( or something like that too lazy to look around).

  • dd is non-Windows.... What do you mean by "windows dd"?
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 11:47
  • Just Google for dd windows, and you'll find it. There is nothing Unix specific about dd or any other standard Unix utilities
    – vrdhn
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 14:19
  • Do you mean third-party or released by Microsoft?
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 15:25


Create a new virtual disk that is the size of the physical disk you want to copy.

on the Machines sidebar list in Vmware, go to settings, select the disk, map it to a drive letter on the host machine, use your favorite imaging software to copy the physical disk to the VM disk.

This is nice because it's a direct copy and does not require in image which would otherwise mean a third copy of the disk would be needed temporarily.


In VMWare Workstation, File->import supports a physical machine as the source


You can add a windows (samba) share on your hardware node, and go to it through your virtual node (\) to copy the files. Alternatively, you can use the network browsing feature to locate the files on the shared drive, and copy them.

  • I don't think you get it. He wants to copy the drive, not the files. Commented Oct 22, 2008 at 22:54

You can attach a blank VMDK as a disk drive with SmartVDK and copy the files over to it.

If you want to preserve ACLs and all the NTFS metadata (make a perfect image,) use ImageX to capture an image of the physical disk. And then immediately apply the image to the attached virtual disk drive. You'll need enough space to have a complete backup of the source hard drive, though.


After a long research i found out that the only way to import the informations from your computer to the virtual machine is by sharing them folder by folder and giving full rights for them.Worked for me!


Use QEMU disk image utility. Available for Windows too.

On Linux:

qemu-img convert -p -f raw -O vmdk /dev/sda disk.vmdk

On Windows (run as Administrator):

qemu-img convert -p -f raw -O vmdk x: disk.vmdk

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